Just got off the phone with Joe "Meaty" Alu, and during the talk, I asked him a question about his boss, Kim Rothstein.
He said, "I don't know -- I'm not with her."
I said, "I thought you were back to work."
He said, "I don't spend my days with her. I don't baby-sit her at the house. If she needs me, she calls me. That's it."
His tone stopped me in my tracks. I'd never heard Alu talk that tersely about Kim before. It was a little jarring and a far cry from the conversation I had with Alu back in November.
He also said he is committed to protecting Kim for the rest of his life. I asked him how he was being paid, and he just said he would protect her whether he was paid or not. "I'm with Kim all the time, and I'll always be there," he said. "She's a victim in this thing. She didn't know a damned thing that was going on. We had no clue. She's still in the house, and she will stay there for as long as she can, before they put her out. She doesn't need to compensate me. I promised her I would stay with her and protect her, and that's what I'm going to do."
I asked Joe: You're still Kim's bodyguard, right?
"Yeah. I mean, if she
needs me, she calls me," he answered.
If she needs him, she'll call him. Once again, that didn't compute. Just the other day, he was talking about paid days off on his Facebook page (he said that he was just kidding with his niece and that he wasn't being paid anything but his retirement).
Have to take his word for it, but it sounded like things had changed drastically.
UPDATED: After this was published, Alu called me and insisted again that nothing has changed regarding his bodyguarding duties since Scott Rothstein went to prison.
-- In actual news, I've learned that Mark Shubin, the mysterious character who purchased a Cessna Citation from Rothstein Ponzi feeder George Levin, was arrested at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on a grand larceny charge two weeks ago.
The 60-year-old Ukraine-born Shubin ripped off a $75,000 onboard navigation computer from Gulfstream jet owned by Mark Daniels, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fort Lauderdale police allege.
Shubin entered the Logos Aviation hangar at executive airport on that day and asked for staff there to remove the computer from Daniels' Gulfstream, according to the police report. Shubin signed a work order under a business called Aerodynamics Group, or Aero Group, but police say he didn't have Daniels' permission to take the computer.
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Also, I promised to update you on other Levin aircraft, but you guys beat me to the punch. In addition to the Citation and King Air, Levin also owned a Gulfstream 3. That plane is apparently up for sale as well, with an asking price of a hair under $5 million.
I spoke with Lance Whitley, who owns an aviation company that managed Levin's aircraft until November, when the Ponzi scheme imploded. "I believe he's selling all three," Whitney told me. "You have to think he's got some financial troubles since he was Rothstein's top investor."
Whitney said Levin had considered starting an air charter business with his planes. "He kept talking about doing that; he's a businessman who does a lot of things, that's for sure," said Whitney. "But it takes a while to get that going. One airplane needed a lot of work, and then the market went down and there wasn't a lot of money to be made."